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Old 04-14-09, 05:46 PM   #1
eofelis 
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Colorado National Monument to require lights and/or reflectors

While riding the Colorado National Monument loop (aka "Tour of the Moon", or Rimrock Drive) yesterday I had a chance to talk with a few of the park rangers at the entrance stations and at the visitor's center. The Colorado National Monument administration has decided to start enforcing the rule that states that all bicyclists must have either lights or reflectors on their bikes in order to ride over the Monument starting within the next month or so. This rule on been "on the books" for quite some time, but they have only recently decided to start vigorously enforcing it.

There is some confusion even among the park staff as to exactly what is required. A law enforcement ranger, Clint Forte, told me that lights will be required and that reflectors will not cut it; however, yesterday I was showed the most recent memo that stated "lights or reflectors" but didn't specify if that meant both front and rear. Further confusing matters, one of the park people said that just a tail light or reflector is required, while another said that something front and rear is going to be required. So apparently even they don't know yet exactly what they're doing. Furthermore, I asked one of the rangers how they plan on dealing with tourists who are wanting to ride through the park and are unfamiliar with the new rule enforcement; her reply was, "We're still working on that."

So to play it safe, I would plan on using both a front head light and tail light. I had a Planet Bike Spok tail light on yesterday, which seemed to more than meet the requirement. Likewise for the Planet Bike Spok head light, since what they want is for bicyclists to be visible to motorists. ($20 at REI, http://ecom1.planetbike.com/3042_1.html)

For those of you unfamiliar with this ride, it is truly one of the crown jewels of road riding in Colorado. It is a spectacular ride, with amazing views of red rock canyons and some really good climbing. The ride include three unlit tunnels, one on the east side and two on the west, which is why the Park Service wants us to use the lights. This ride featured as a stage for several editions of the Coors Classic in the 1980s and was in the film American Flyers. A map of the ride can be found here: http://www.tomorrowhillfarm.com/John...cycleMaps.html

It seems to me that the park staff has developed a rather antagonistic relationship with cyclists recently, with the park superintendent even going so far a year ago as to suggest that the park may be closed to cyclists (there is precedent for this elsewhere in the National Park Service). So far that hasn't happened, but the park has made it abundantly clear (in my opinion) that they regard cyclists as a nuisance and that we're second class users of the park compared to those in a motorized vehicle (part of the price for be slower than a car on the climbs, I guess). So it's important for us to play nice and obey their rules. I also suspect that the park would have no hesitation about turning away any cyclists without lights.

When I find out from the Park Service exactly what they're requiring I'll pass that information along. Meanwhile, it looks like a little LED light front and rear will make them happy with you.
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Old 04-14-09, 08:41 PM   #2
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http://www.michie.com/colorado/lpext...main-h.htm&cp=

colorado state law requires a light in front, reflectors in back and to the sides. I won't ride through a tunnel or at night without a good taillight. If cyclists are riding through the tunnels without lights then I can understand why the park superintendent might be a little unhappy.
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Old 04-14-09, 10:17 PM   #3
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http://www.michie.com/colorado/lpext...main-h.htm&cp=

colorado state law requires a light in front, reflectors in back and to the sides. I won't ride through a tunnel or at night without a good taillight. If cyclists are riding through the tunnels without lights then I can understand why the park superintendent might be a little unhappy.
Actually, Colorado state law, according to the reference you provided, states:

"Every bicycle in use at the times described in section 42-4-204 shall be equipped with a lamp on the front emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front."

The "times described in section 42-4-204" is the section that describes when you are required use lights on your car (between sunset and sunrise and during bad weather, etc.). So Colorado state law does NOT require a bicyclist to use lights during daylight hours.

The Colorado National Monument is requiring the use of lights during daylight hours.

All this is moot, however, since Colorado State traffic laws do NOT apply to the Colorado National Monument. The road in any National Park or National Monument is a federal road, and users of that road are subject to federal, not state, traffic laws (if you get a ticket on this road you go to federal traffic court in Denver). Additionally, Park Service facilities are allowed to have additional traffic laws to address their unique circumstances, which is what the Colorado National Monument is doing.

The fact that these are federal roads affects cyclists in at least one other way too: unlike the laws in the state of Colorado, it is illegal for bicyclist to ride two abreast on a federal road, including in the Colorado National Monument.

Many of us who ride in the Colorado National Monument (I live in Grand Junction) don't have a problem with the bicycle specific traffic laws in the Monument. I for one have no problem using a light when I ride the Monument. What I have a problem with is that there there seems to be a double standard on the part of the Park Service when it comes to applying and enforcing the law. The Colorado National Monument is somewhat unusual in that part of the road through it is used by residents of an upscale bedroom community as a short cut to get to and from Grand Junction. These daily commuters occasionally drive quite recklessly: I've often been passed by cars by mere inches on this stretch (including while in the tunnel); and even though it is required that motorist also use their headlights in the tunnel, this law is commonly ignored.

I actually asked one of the law enforcement rangers if any motorists has ever been cited for passing a cyclist too closely; to his knowledge, it has never happened! I get "buzzed" nearly every time I ride that road, and my experiences seem to be common, yet nobody has ever been cited for this!

It would be a simple matter for the Park Service to inform the members of this community of the safety hazards that are occurring while they are driving the roads in the Monument, yet the Park Service has taken no such steps. Meanwhile, the Park Service has held at least one meeting to discuss with the cycling community the problems that are being created due to cyclists.

I really wish the Park Service would treat us cyclists as equals and not as pests.
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Old 04-14-09, 10:42 PM   #4
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Guess they'll have to remake all those sequences from "American Flyers" now.

Yeah, it is kind of a double standard, and it does seem the the residents of Glade Park seem to think it is "their" road and they can do what they want. The Ranger's use the same freq as the sheriff's office, so I hear all their radio traffic...there is usually only one, MAYBE two actual law enforcement Ranger's on duty on the Monument and they do not do too many traffic stops. Which is discouraging as just about everyone I've ever seen drive there speeds and cuts the corners short, over a double yellow. I suppose they think if they actually start more rigorous enforcement of traffic laws, people will stop coming, even though that has been dis-proven in many studies. I only ride the monument occasionally simply because of those issues. One day I'll move back to Boulder where I can ride all day in the mountains with very few issues.
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Old 04-15-09, 10:03 AM   #5
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... it does seem the the residents of Glade Park seem to think it is "their" road and they can do what they want.
By now I expect the Glade Porkers...er, "Parkers" to cop the attitude that it's their road, but it really bugs me when the park staff seem to agree!

I was at the meeting that the park superintendent, Joan (something), held at St. Marys two years ago. I was pretty appalled. My take on it was that Joan wasn't even trying to disguise the fact that she believes that the Glade Parkers have more of a right to be there than we do. The worst part is that it seemed like most of the cycling community wasn't really putting up any fight and even seemed to agree with her.

I mean, I acknowledge that the Glade Parkers have a legal right to use that road without paying (this in and of itself is a long story), but lets look at the two groups whose interest the park needs to reconcile: on the one hand you have a group who is there to enjoy the park while producing no air, water or noise pollution (which is essentially the National Park Service mandate), and another group cutting five minutes off of their commute time. Now if the Monument staff want to treat each group as equals, I can live with that, but to give the "commuters" more rights and privileges than those of us who are using the park for its stated purpose? Well, to me that's unacceptable, yet that's where we are.

It would appear that the Glade Parkers have an inordinate amount of clout with the Park Service. Maybe they bought themselves a congressman or something.
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Old 05-14-09, 05:07 PM   #6
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http://www.gjsentinel.com/search/con..._speeding.html

enforcement starts may 16
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Old 05-17-09, 05:22 PM   #7
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I wonder if they will enforce this for the Tour the Valley ride in Aug.?
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Old 05-18-09, 07:58 AM   #8
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the Bicycle Tour of Colorado has an optional loop up there on day three. they sent out an email putting everyone on notice that you better have lights if you plan to do the loop. later.
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Old 05-18-09, 11:56 AM   #9
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It is really a very good idea for bicycles to have lights and reflectors, etc., in tunnels.
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